Letter: June 22, 1847

To the President.
Harrodsrurgh, Ky., June 22, 1847.

My dear Sir:

Permit me to call to your attention, and that of the President, the situation of Mr. Jas. Magoffin, whose widowed mother and numerous relatives of whom I am one, all reside in this place and vicinity, consisting of half of this county, (Mercer, Ky.). He was taken prisoner near Chihuahua last fall and condemned to be shot as a Mexican traitor having lived in that place as a merchant and was returning to Chihuahua to look after his affairs from Santa Fe, having been of essential service to Genl. Kearney was in advance of him on his march to California. His sentence was suspended at the request of Governor Amijo, his wife being a relation, Mr. Magoffin never became a citizen of Mexico, altho authorized to be so, always declined. His wife is dead and his children are at school in this state and Missouri, when Col. Donaphan approached Chihuahua he was sent off a prisoner to Durango where I understand he is now detained, still subject to his original sentence. Will you be so good as to request General Taylor to take immediate steps for his safety and release. Mr. Magoffin was born in this place and his friends take a deep interest in his release.

I hope you will indulge me in saying a few words about the Mexican War, which had been conducted so far with an energy highly honorable to the President and yourself, in the face of an opposition dishonorable to the Leading Whigs whose hypocrisy is only equaled by their impudence, many of them would disgrace their country to injure the President. I hope you will go straight ahead without regarding their clamors. The people are getting right in this State, and if we do not elect some three or four Democrats, it will not be for want of trying. In this District Mr. Charles A. Wickliffe is making a strong impression. His opponent is compelled to say he will vote men and money for the war, altho he is foolish enough to say that the President blundered into the war and that Texas is not worth having or California either, and this had weakened him with honest Whigs. There seems to be some uneasiness as to what we are to do if Mexico still refuses to treat. For my part I think our course is a plain one. I know something of the Spanish character. They are a proud, haughty people and kindness and forbearance is lost upon them. Gratitude is not one of their virtues, and conciliation can only be made through their fears. The masses are ignorant and under the absolute control of their priests, who are venal and corrupt. Touch their money and you reach their hearts. Make it their interest to have peace and we will soon have it. They care not for the common people and it is only when they are made to feel [fear] that they become humble as spaniels. When Genl. Scott reaches the city of Mexico his first duty will be to unite with one of their parties, the priests included, and have a government organized to suit the times. Capture St. Ana Alamonts, Salas, and others or drive them out of the country. If any more of their generals, colonels, etc., are taken send them all to New Orleans, release none of them. They will promise anything when in our power, and the next moment betray and cut our throats, and if nothing else will do separate the northern provinces from Mexico, as Yucatan now is, but we will have to protect any party we may side with for some time. There is too much ignorance to understand at present a federal Government, and a central government never can control the whole. We must have California and New Mexico, at least by way of indemnity, and then there the Rio Del Norte may be the line to a line running west of the Gila River. England may be induced to agree to this by paying the purchase money to her creditors, but it is true that England and France have heretofore by their intrigues created all this hostile feeling in Mexico against the United States. It is now their interest to have peace. I know that England for years kept the feelings of all the South American Republics jealous of us and at this moment they can do much for peace if they chose. Our Whig papers and speeches in Congress have done more to keep up this war than anything else. General Scott should be instructed to embargo all newspaper going to the city of Mexico or suspicious letters, as they have their spies and partisans at Washington City and at New Orleans—stop this channel of communication, and you stop all the fuel to this war. Cut it up root and branch and let martial law prevail in the city of Mexico and Vera Cruz. If General Scott and Taylor will do this we will not hear any more Corwin’s speeches or “our Friend” in the United States. It is not generally known what immense number of our papers are sent to all those South American Republics and to Mexico. When at Bagota from 1833 to 1837 I could always find the National Intelligencer and other Whig papers, abusing our Government when mine were left behind.

Yours truly with high respect,

Robert B. McAfee.

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